Youngstown school board questions sports spending, football salaries, safety

EDITOR'S NOTE — A quote by board member Jackie Adair indicated that the East High School football coach was paid $61,000. While the salary is correct, the coach also serves as the dean of East High School.

By Graig Graziosi


Youngstown school board members continue to air their grievances about the administration of the district and the performance of schools CEO Krish Mohip.

At a special meeting Tuesday, board member Jackie Adair claimed the district is allocating $1 million for the installation of turf on Chaney High School’s football field.

“I am personally prepared to protest,” Adair said. “Heck no.”

Board President Brenda Kimble agreed, and questioned why the district would choose the Chaney practice field to receive the turf rather than Rayen Stadium, where the district’s teams play their home games.

District spokeswoman Denise Dick said after the meeting that the $1 million number was inaccurate and that the district is developing a comprehensive facilities improvement plan that includes turf installation for both Chaney and Rayen fields. Dick said a cost for the project isn’t available at its current stage in the development process.

Adair continued, calling into question the salaries of the football coaches at both East and Chaney high schools. She said that salaries for football coaches at both schools are significantly higher than the average salary of a YCSD teacher.

“The football coach at East was hired in at $61,000,” she said. “Which teacher in this district makes that salary right out the jump? Our salaries for starting teachers is in the mid- to high-thirties.”

Adair also addressed recent comments made by district Superintendent Joseph Meranto during a meeting with a number of local lawmakers and community leaders and state Rep. Andrew Brenner of Powell, D-67th, the primary sponsor of House Bill 70, the bill that enables state takover of public school districts.

The bill put Mohip in place as chief executive officer of Youngstown schools, by enabling a state-appointed distress commission to hire a CEO to lead the district. The bill gives Mohip complete operational, managerial and instructional control, relegating the district’s elected school board to an advisory role.

Meranto suggested that poverty is the primary cause of problems in the district and that the race of the students isn’t the reason they are struggling. Adair took issue with the statement, telling a story about how she grew up poor but still completed higher education and had success in her personal life.

“Poverty isn’t an indictment for intellect, it shouldn’t be used as an excuse,” she said.

Adair went on to criticize Mohip, who issued a statement condemning Meranto’s comments, accusing him of pandering to the press.

“He’s posturing for the media. If he really cares about the racial injustices in this district, where was his statement after someone wrote the “N” word across the marquee at Chaney,” she said.

Earlier that day, the Youngstown Chapter of the NAACP conducted a news conference about a recent meeting it had with the state superintendent of public education. NAACP Vice President Jimma McWilson said equity of student education is a priority for the group.

“What is important to us is quality and equitable education to every child, regardless of race,” McWilson said. “And that is just not what’s happening.”

If the district wanted to prevent the state takeover, quality education should’ve been provided, McWilson continued.

“All of this could’ve been prevented,” he said.

Board member Dario Hunter said he was still hearing stories of violence in the schools and said he wanted to see a comprehensive plan for combatting the violence that went beyond “adding more cameras.”

“We need a plan that addresses the root cause of the issue, and we have yet to see that action taken by this administration,” he said.

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